State treasurer candidates have different plans for Louisiana's money. Oil and gas is part of it
Louisianans will head to the polls in just four days to vote in a number of statewide and local races, including state treasurer — a race between two candidates from opposing parties that will influence how Louisiana manages and invests its money.
Republican John Fleming, a former U.S. representative, and Democrat Dustin Granger, a financial adviser from Lake Charles, advanced to the general election runoff after securing the highest percentages of votes in October’s primary.
Of all the positions in state government, the treasurer has the most oversight over state funds.
“Basically, they are the No. 1 financial manager of our state,” said Eugene Lee-Johnson, a political science professor at Southern University.
The treasurer is responsible for managing and investing billions of dollars in public money. The treasurer also serves on the State Bond Commission and manages state debt. The candidates’ perspectives on how to steward the state’s financial assets are as divergent as their political views.
Democrat Dustin Granger
Granger, a Democrat, wants to move Louisiana away from investing in oil and gas. Instead, he said, he wants to pivot toward investing in renewable energies and firms with environmental, social and governance — also known as ESG — policies, something many conservative Louisiana politicians oppose.
“I think we need to invest our money where there’s the best opportunity,” Granger said in an interview with Louisiana Considered, adding that many companies with ESG policies offer a good return on investment.
If elected, Granger said, one of his top priorities as treasurer would be helping address the state’s ongoing insurance crisis. About a dozen insurers have pulled out of Louisiana since 2020 and homeowners insurance rates have skyrocketed. He said the state is in need of what he calls “real insurance reform,” and that he could use his position as treasurer to help finance new state programs — like a reinsurance program — that could help lower insurance costs for Louisianans.
In the October primary, Granger brought in the highest percentage of votes of any Democrat running for statewide office. But at just 32%, he still faces an uphill battle to win the seat. His opponent, Republican John Fleming, brought in 44% of the primary vote. A third candidate, also a Republican, garnered another 24%.
Republican John Fleming
Fleming, who represented Louisiana’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2009 until 2017, and was a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of ultraconservative House Republicans. He was also appointed by President Donald Trump to serve in several roles, including as assistant secretary of commerce for economic development.
Before running for Congress, Fleming said he started a series of companies that still employ about 350 Louisianans. He said that experience, combined with his work in Congress, has prepared him for the role of treasurer.
“Every month, I make a very large payroll,” he told Louisiana Considered. “That is very important in developing your understanding of the economy, and how government can help and hurt the economy and small business people.”
Fleming said that he sees the most important role of the state treasurer as protecting state taxpayer dollars through safe and smart investment.
“If money sits in an account with nothing happening to it, it loses three to 10% of its value every year depending on the rate of inflation,” he said. “So it’s important that you have forward motion with money and bank accounts.”
If elected, he said he would work with the governor and Legislature to look for ways to “move our state forward economically.”
Fleming said in August when he qualified to run for the position that he had concerns about investing in companies with ESG policies.
He told Louisiana Considered that he’s not opposed to investing in renewable energy outright. Instead, he said he thinks the state needs to invest its money “wisely” to make sure it gets the best return on investment, suggesting that prioritizing renewable energy outcomes could be a purely political move.
The general election will be held this Saturday, Nov. 18.